Thursday, January 10, 2013

Treasury of Joy and Inspiration

Compiled by the Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest Association, 2013
318 p.    Essays
The Shortlist
When I was growing up, the Reader’s Digest was ubiquitous in my home, along with the other popular magazines of the time, Ladies’ Home Journal, Life, The Saturday Evening Post and Time. The value of the Reader’s Digest for me was that I was an early reader and the Reader’s Digest was at a reading level that allowed me to read it cover-to-cover each month by about third grade. The formula of the Reader’s Digest was (and still is) to distill the essence of book, magazine, and newspaper articles in a way that eliminates the fluff but allows the essence to shine through. Interspersed throughout the Digest are inspirational articles and cute narrative jokes that were the main attraction for a young reader—or any  reader, for that matter.

The little book, Treasury of Joy and Inspiration is a compilation of some of the moving stories and insightful articles that have filled the pages of the Reader’s Digest through the years. The book is divided into several sections with five or six stories in each section: Joy, Miracles, Gratitude, Giving, Holidays, Healing, and Heroes. At the end of each story is a cute narrative joke. 

Gleaned from the magazine throughout the years, some of the stories make you smile and some move you to tears. Here was what surprised me looking at these stories from the vantage point of an older adult (did I actually write that!). The stories, while inspirational in nature are surprisingly liberal in tone. As I looked abstractly at the articles, I saw the values that shaped me—family, religion, equality and acceptance. I was especially struck by an entry by Senator Bill Bradley about how playing on mixed-race sports teams shaped his ideas of racial equality and the inspirational essay by President Eisenhower about the American spirit.
Treasury of Joy and Inspiration is a lovely little book to take to a friend in the hospital, an elderly person in a nursing home, or a new mother who has no time to read anything long. I received my copy from the publicist and I am going to send it to the 98-year-old mother of my dear friend. I know that she will enjoy it.

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